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Antarctica -- Drive By or Step On

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4 hours ago, 87hoya said:

Thank you so much!  We have started devouring your posts-and the links work!  You are funny and informative-thank you very much!


My pleasure ... enjoy.

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On 2/7/2020 at 12:15 AM, SarniaLo said:

I would like to get back to 2 of the interesting points made by celoplyr, because I have a different view on some of them.


Safety : there have been, to my knowledge, only two cases when people had to be evacuated from a cruise ship in Antarctica (the MV Explorer, which sank in 2007, and MS Nordkapp which grounded in Deception island in 2007 also). In both cases, the passengers were quickly recovered by another ship in the area (actually, in both cases it was Hurtigruten's MS Nordnorge). It is possible to rescue a couple of hundred people on another ship quickly. I don't believe anyone would have to roll in a lifeboat for 4 days. Recovering thousands of passengers from a big cruise ship would be incredibly more complicated because most ships sailing in Antarctica would not have the capacity. Getting in and out the zodiacs can indeed be a problem, although some ships have very efficient landing platforms that make going into the zodiac quite easy.


Also (and I don't have the data to actually back this up, but this is based on a bit of sailing knowledge) I do not think cancellations/delays happen more often with small ships. Very big ships are not always built to endure well this type of weather and seas. Total cancellation of a trip are not common at all (do you know celoplyr which ship the passengers you mention were supposed to sail on initially?).


I agree that if you are seriously mobility impaired then it's probably easier to do a drive-by (but I've just seen a report of a man in a wheelchair who landed in Antarctica from an expedition ship, I think it was with Hurtigruten. I've personally witnessed passengers with mobility impairement helped by the crew as much as need be to make sure they would safely land on Antarctica, so I don't think it's an absolute deal-breaker).


I've done only expeditions trips with landings. I think the most amazing experience I get from those landings is the close observation of wildlife (and even interaction, when they are curious enough to come close, which is actually quite often). You can definitely get amazing landscapes from the ship, and I think Antarctica's amazingness is enough to make you enjoy a first trip even if it's a cruise-by, but being close to wildlife and ice is something else (and also agree with the zodiac rides).


With regard to your mobility impaired comment - this is sort of relevant.  I did a S. Georgia / Falklands trip where all of our landings were zodiac landings.  There was a woman on board who was sort of mobile but she needed 2 canes to get around.  She did all the landings.  She did need a bit of help getting into the zodiacs but the land crew were happy to help her getting in and out.  She did not stray far from the landing sites but she clearly enjoyed herself.  Also, the penguins will come to you.  You do not have to go to them.


I am not sure if the OP is mobility impaired but I say that if you want to do a zodiac based trip, give the cruise company a call and see what they say.  Nothing ventured - nothing gained.

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Posted (edited)

Random thoughts:

I can’t imagine spending the time and money to go to Antarctica just for a drive-by but if one has mobility issues then a drive-by is way better than not going. 


My husband and I went to thrift stores to gear up prior to our February 2008 trip to Antarctica and spent less than $20. We each got 2 pairs of waterproof pants that would fit snugly over our boots  for water landings.  I am short and thin so I got mine in the kids section, $2.00 each. Hubby is tall and thin so he had no issues finding bargain pants at around $3.00 each.

I had good knee-high boots and my husband got a decent pair at little cost. I bought a light pair of new Under Armour gloves that were discounted to $10. They were perfect as they are not bulky, fit snugly but don’t make my hands sweat and were water resistant enough for me. We did not buy special socks but just took multiple pairs of what we had.  Wool for my husband, cotton for me and we were fine. Same for hats and scarves which I never wore but my husband did.  We were rarely cold (low or mid 30’s F) except for a wild Zodiac ride back to ship when water was pouring in at a slightly alarming but thrilling rate.  

I wore Under Armour long underwear and left it off after the first landing as I was far too warm with layers.  I switched to my 100% cotton leggings and sweat shirts that were much more comfortable and far cooler than synthetics which I never wear.  Hubby wore his old ski underwear and was fine as well. Our cruise line included expedition jackets that were more than efficient as in too warm for me, lol! My adult small was too big and looked like a short red dress. I’d requested a child’s large but none were available.


We wore our sunglasses much of the time and were glad we had them as well as small bottles of hand sanitizer and our small digital camera in our backpacks.


We had great lecturers on our ship but blessedly lacking (for us) in cheesy shows, games, and kids. Fellow passengers were well-traveled,  knowledgeable, quiet and understated.

Antarctica was wonderful and in our top 3 places visited. We hope to go again.



Edited by Bookish Angel

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Bookish Angel!

Interesting post and information.


Your post is well-taken. I feel the same way about those who decide to take a land-based trip to the Galapagos Islands.

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I am hoping that our cruise there in Dec. will still go.  Thanks for the tips, Bookish Angel!

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Thanks, sippican and 87hoya.


I hope you both make it there soon. Antarctica was spectacular and far surpassed our expectations - as adventure travel tends to do.


Safe travels and blue skies.


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My analogy and I will admit that it is a bad one and much over simplified is that you are going to Europe to see London.  You have 2 choices -


1) Go to London and spend some time in London with feet on the ground or


2) You fly to England; get on a bus to London and get on one of those sightseeing boats that go up and own the Thames but do not actually stop anywhere; then you go home.


Which one would you take?



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Posted (edited)

I returned a month ago from a 20-nights cruise with "G-Expedition" (it belongs to the Canada Based Company G-Adventures).


We were a big range of people from the age of 22 till 70...but nobody disabled. All the landings except one was with Zodiac Boats.


I agree with most of the above, that a drive-by is not worth the money and the time you spend in Antarctica and Step-On and mingle with the several species of Penguins (we've seen 7 different ones) is the way to go. It's a once-in-a-live time-journey.

The Nature is amazing, and when you do it I would not only go to the Antarctic Peninsula, but also to the Falkland Island and to amazing South Georgia, with colonies of Penguins in their 100'000...(we had 2 days Falklands, 4 days South Georgia and 5 days Antarctica).


With G-Adventures you'll get a nice cosy Parka included in the price (so you don't need to bring a warm jacket, but "only" layers for under it) and they have the big waterproof boots for you (no, they have to be returned). So the only thing you should get are some waterproof trousers and a likewise bag for your camera.


The ship has only 135 passengers which was great, because many places don't allow more than 60 people on the same time on shore (for example Port Lockroy), therefore either you spent the whole day at one place with a bigger ship until everyone had the chance to go on land or you might visit two or even three places in one day having a smaller ship...or you just will not visit this little gems but other places...


During sea days you'll have several lectures about Nature, History and Animals, beside watching out for whales and sea birds.

And the food is just amazing and the same quality as on big ships.




Edited by onyx007

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